Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress
I really enjoyed the first book Diane Gaston’s Three Soldiers trilogy, Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady, and I was keen to continue. This trilogy focuses on three soldiers who met in the aftermath of Badajoz, and follows them as they adjust back to civilian life after their experiences in the Napoleonic Wars.
Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress is the second book in the trilogy, and focuses on Captain Allan Landon. As the younger son of a landed family, he took on a career in the army. The main action of the book opens at Waterloo, and just as the fighting is about the begin, Allan discovers a lost young boy near the battlefield. The young boy turns out to be a young woman named Marian Pallant. Marian had snuck out with her best friend as the friend went to see her sweetheart before the battle, and then became lost after falling off their horse.
Allan takes Marian to a chateau where he thinks she will be safe. These opening chapters are actually quite exciting as the author provides detail on the battle and we see Marian helping to evacuate people to safety. I loved that she could show Marian as levelheaded and good in a crisis, while also still making it clear that she’s still a naïve, untrained upper-class girl. Marian has empathy and good instincts, but she doesn’t suddenly morph into a superhero.
The romance which blooms after the war is anything but smooth for the protagonists, but I did enjoy the story. The two end up courting very soon after the war ends, though there are plenty of obstacles in their path. Some come from Allan’s military career since the cessation of hostilities doesn’t mean the end of his service assignments, and then there is the son of Marian’s guardian. This cousin isn’t an evil supervillain, but he is a feckless troublemaker.
I did mark this book down a tad because Marian did grate on my nerves a bit in some of the later chapters. As we could tell in the earlier portion of the book, she is naïve and sheltered, but wants to live up to her ideals. Unfortunately there are times when the common sense I admired earlier seems to desert her, and that became rather frustrating. Also, she has an annoying tendency to call Allan “Captain” all through the book rather than simply using his name.
However, there is also a lot to like in this novel. I really like the heroes in this trilogy. They’re not rakes or alpha-holes and yet their strength of character is made evident on the page. Not only do Allan and his two fellow officers seem like decent people, but they are leaders without putting others down or making them inferior.
I also really enjoyed the book’s sense of time and place. The events of Waterloo and the unrest in England following the return of unemployed soldiers after the Napoleonic Wars all play important roles in the story. Marian and Allan clearly would not have been the people that they were but for the historical events that took place around them. However, even though there is a lot of history in this novel, it is still quite clearly a romantic story.
While I did enjoy the first book in this trilogy a bit more, Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress is still a good solid read. For those who enjoy reading about Regency life beyond the ballrooms, I think you will enjoy this trilogy very much.
Note: While not graphic, there are scenes of wartime violence as well as discussion of an off-page attempted rape.
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I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.